Eric Dier has admitted that Mauricio Pochettino’s sacking and the arrival of Jose Mourinho presented a unique challenge to him.
From the outside looking in, it would seem as if Dier was one of the biggest winners of the managerial change at Spurs as the 26-year-old has had a new lease of life since being moved to centre-back by the Portuguese coach.
However, the England international admitted that he had wanted to play at centre-back for several years already and had held an honest conversation with Pochettino regarding this desire last summer.
Dier started as a centre-back in the last two games of the Pochettino era against Red Star Belgrade and Sheffield United, a fact that is often forgotten.
He revealed that the Argentine had agreed last summer that he would be selected as a central defender if he trained well.
In an interview with The Athletic, the former Sporting Lisbon man said: “I had a very honest conversation with Pochettino at the beginning of last season. Because I had surgery in pre-season and missed all the pre-season.
“I went to see him, it was more about my position and where I was playing. We had spoken for many years about me gradually making that transition back to centre-back. For the last three years we’d had many conversations on it. And it was me saying to him: for me, it was now. And if it wasn’t for him, we’d have to find another solution.
“He was very happy. I went to him, made that decision, and came to him with a definitive statement. He was actually very happy with that. He told me: train hard, get fit, and then you know how I am, whoever deserves to will play.”
While Dier did keep his place in the side after Mourinho replaced Pochettino at the helm, he was moved back into midfield by the 57-year-old.
He admitted that it was difficult for him to deal with the change of position due to the commitment Pochettino had made to him.
Dier added: “I said to (Mourinho) that it’s very difficult for me, having made that commitment when Pochettino was there, to go back on it.
“Centre-back is where I see myself. He said ‘OK, prove it to me’, basically. He gave me my chance. And things have been going OK since then.”
Spurs Web Opinion
It is clear that Dier has always seen himself as a centre-half. Spurs fans tend to forget that he actually played some of his best football for us at the back. The 2016/17 season has arguably been the 26-year-old’s best season so far in a Spurs shirt and for the majority of that campaign, he played as part of a back three alongside Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen.
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